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LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER

 
FSA LogoThe Luxury Hotel Insider: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance. 
 
Named one of Tripbase's Best Luxury Travel Blogs for 2011, below are Five Star Alliance's newest articles featuring exclusive information on luxury hotels worldwide including special offers and deals at the world's best hotels.

Banyan Tree Maldives: Sailing in Style Aboard the Turkish Yacht Velaa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Banyan Tree Maldives

As if a stay at the Banyan Tree in the Maldives wasn't magical enough. The resort has organized sailing expeditions aboard the Turkish gulet, a 30-meter double-mast yacht named Velaa. Elegantly appointed, the yacht can accommodate up to 12 guests in comfortable mahogany cabins for one-, two-, and three-night adventures to the best dive spots in the North and South Male Atolls of the Maldives archipelago. With five-star service onboard, gourmet cuisine, daily canapés and drinks, and luxurious cabins equipped with LCD TV screens and DVD players, this isn't exactly roughing it. Soak up the sunshine from the ship's deck, picnic on secluded beaches, explore the wonders of the deep, diving with grey reef sharks, eagle rays, barracuda, stonefish and turtles. After your unforgettable journey, return to the luxury of Banyan Tree Maldives for some more pampering.


California Dreaming: Cyrus Restaurant, Healdsburg, Sonoma


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cyrus RestaurantHeaded to Sonoma wine country? Forget trying to score a reservation at French Laundry. Head to Cyrus, the gem of a restaurant nestled just off the square in Healdsburg, housed in the superb Les Mars hotel. Rising Star Chef Douglas Keane and Maitre d' Nick Peyton offer contemporary cuisine in a flexible prix fixe format of three to five courses selected from any section of the beautiful menu. The ingredients are luxurious, the best from California's enormous bounty. Devour the terrine of foie gras with plum-ginger compote; corn, chanterelle and pancetta pansotti with cranberry beans, arugula and nage; or rack of lamb with eggplant ragout, fregola and stuffed squash blossom. Bartender Scott Beattie creates drinks to match, like the Creole Watermelon, a blend of vodka, crushed red watermelon, lime juice and Fresno chile rings, garnished with a triangle of watermelon rubbed with lime juice, kosher salt and chili powder. And if cocktails aren't your thing, Sommelier Jim Rollston's extensive wine list has over 750 world class wines, with a special focus on Sonoma appellations.


Gramercy Park Hotel, New York: Sensational Special Offer


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gramercy Park HotelThe hottest "new" hotel in Manhattan, the most talked about hotel opening of 2006, Gramercy Park Hotel is Ian Shrager's latest masterpiece. With the bold redesign of the classic Manhattan icon, Gramercy Park Hotel has emerged as the luxurious hideway for the "new haute bohemian." Artist Julian Schnabel has created the gorgeous, sensual interior, which features art exhibits including works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Lucky guests can imbibe cocktails under the stars at the Private Roof Club and Landscaped Garden, opening this spring. But perhaps the best part of Gramercy Park Hotel: guests receive a key, upon check-in, to the exclusive, gated Gramercy Park. Take advantage of a fantastic offer at this gem in NYC. For a limited time, receive a complimentary room upgrade for stays from February 25-March 18. Available with online bookings only. Upgrade is not available for suites, and blackout dates may apply.


St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Ireland: Specials at The Merrion, Dublin


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St. Patrick's Day ShamrockGet ready for Ireland's biggest party of the year. Don your green and get ready to imbibe some brew... The St. Patrick's Day Festival will shake things up in Dublin from March 14-18, 2007. Enjoy the city's finest music, theater, carnivals, comedy, dance, and the famous parade, and then retire to the elegant Merrion hotel, just steps away from the action. Hit the fabulous Tethra Spa, or dine at Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland's only two-star Michelin restaurant. In celebration of Paddy's Day, The Merrion, Dublin's most stylish five-star spot, is offering some dandy packages. The St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Package, available March 16 to 18, features two nights in a Superior or Twin room in the contemporary Garden Wing, full Irish breakfast daily, The Merrion's signature "Black Velvet" cocktail, two grandstand tickets for the St. Patrick's Day Festival Parade and a special picnic box with snacks to take to the parade. Priced at EUR 795 per couple. The St. Patrick's Day Festival Special Offer, available March 16 to 18, features overnight accommodation, full Irish breakfast and a Black Velvet cocktail for EUR 355 per night for a Superior Room or EUR 375 per night for a Deluxe Twin room in the Garden Wing. Rates are based upon double occupancy, and subject to availability.

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The Restaurant at the Setai, South Beach


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Setai At the Restaurant at the Setai, trans-ethnic cuisine is crafted from the finest, freshest ingredients in an impressive exhibition kitchen. This is the pinnacle of haute dining in South Beach, the new "Vegas by the Ocean," so called by NYT critic Mark Bittman. The article “Is South Beach Growing Up?" identifies The Setai's restaurant as "visually stunning," with "competent, and actually warm, service":

The sheer scale of the Restaurant at the Setai-- South Beach's most opulent dining spot, and perhaps one of the most interestingly and arguably perfectly designed restaurants in the world-- is astounding. An enormous courtyard is dominated by a huge reflecting pool, and there are 20-foot ceilings, domes of 500 tightly grouped roses and an elaborate array of materials used to build the minimalist but intricate walls and floors: pressed metal, carved wood, imported antique brick, slate, stone, tile and fabric. Down the hall is a strikingly long bar, whose top is mother-of-pearl.

The price tag? A mere $120 per person with the prix fixe tasting menu.


Dining in Vail, Colorado: The Wildflower at The Lodge at Vail


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Wildflower at The Lodge at Vail Rack of Venison (with sweet yams and foie gras) or Sautéed Northern Halibut with Dungeness crab ravioli? The choices are sensational at The Wildflower, Vail Valley's only restaurant to be awarded both the AAA Four Diamond Award and Wine Spectator's "Best of Award of Excellence." The Lodge at Vail's signature restaurant serves creative American cuisine, under the supervision of newly appointed Executive Chef Randy Belanger. Rated the #1 restaurant in Vail in the Zagat survey, The Wildflower boasts views of the snow-capped mountains from the dining room. Enjoy the epicurean delights from the area's only tasting menu, which changes daily-- depending on the availability of the finest quality seasonal fruits, vegetables, and meats.


Conrad Chicago Weekend Getaway Offer


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Conrad Chicago A luxurious weekend in Chitown, plus a $100 credit (per night) for incidental spending at the Conrad Chicago? Bring it on! Escape for an exclusive weekend getaway at Conrad Chicago and enjoy the charm of the Windy City combined with the unparalleled luxury of the hotel. From one of the most prestigious addresses on the Magnificent Mile, take in incredible views over the city skyline. Within walking distance of The Loop, The Merchandise Mart, and Lake Michigan, the Conrad is a perfect urban oasis, with the best restaurants and shopping experiences at its doorstep. The 311 spacious, contemporary guest rooms are stacked with state-of-the-art technology, while the bar and restaurant offer a stylish respite at the very heart of the city. Take advantage of this special weekend offer, valid for Friday and Saturday nights only, with rates starting from $245 per night. With your $100 credit, dine at the excellent restaurant or indulge in the small luxuries that are often forgotten. Available until March 31, 2007.


Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos: Post-Dinner Bath Menus


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Las Ventanas al ParaisoDinner and a... bath? Yep, that's right. Rosewood's world-renowned Las Ventanas al Paraiso, the only Five-Diamond property in Los Cabos, is once again leading the pack with peculiar innovative amenities. From the ultra-luxury resort that brought you pre-loaded poolside iPods, Mini Cooper S Convertibles and Porsche Boxsters on property, in-room telescopes for star-gazing and whale-watching, pool-side services like sunglass-cleaning, sewing kits personalized to each guest's wardrobe, and the Hot Type author program (whew!), comes another cutting-edge service. When guests sit down to dine at the upscale dining room for an unforgettable meal at The Restaurant, they are presented with the dinner menu and the after-dinner bath menu, which offers a choice of a "Stress Relieving," "Rejuvenating" or "Sensual & Romantic" bath experiences. Choose from the lists of Champagnes, premium tequilas and Cuban cigars, to enjoy in the bath. So while you gobble down your Baja-Mediterranean cuisine, overlooking the pool and the Sea of Cortez, your bath will be prepared for a luxurious experience en-suite.


Fairmont San Francisco Celebrates Centennial


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont San FranciscoPerched on top of Nob Hill, the glorious Fairmont, where Tony Bennett premiered "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," is celebrating its centennial come April 18. The landmark hotel is beloved by visitors and locals alike for its views (you'll gasp at the panorama of the city and bay), spacious guestrooms (that epitomize elegance), and the wonderfully kitschy bar, The Tonga Room. As recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The United Nations charter was written there. Mick Jagger partied in the penthouse there... It's all in 100 years' work for the Fairmont Hotel... Although the Fairmont's birthday isn't until April 18, the hotel isn't waiting for formalities. It's rolling out a yearlong series of events: public tours, special teas and centennial cocktails, and a penthouse centennial package that goes for a mere $100,000 to mark the hotel's first century in business.

The world-renowned hotel first opened on April 18, 1907, exactly a year after the earthquake and fire ravaged the city. Standing proud on top of the city, the Fairmont became "a symbol of the city's rebirth," the favored haven for "the rich, the royal, and roaming heads of state."


Loews Regency Hotel, New York: A Wicked Night Out On Broadway


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loews Regency In the fast-paced City that Never Sleeps, Loews Regency provides an enclave of quiet elegance and indulgence. Here, it's the exceptional service, luxurious amenities, and attention-to-detail which distinguish this refined Park Avenue address among the plethora of NYC hotels. (Though the devoted regulars, head-over-heels for their preferred hotel in Manhattan, would rather keep it a closely guarded secret getaway). Leave it to the award-winning Loews Regency to devise the perfect night out on the town. You are invited to a "Wicked” night out to hit Broadway and take in the fabulous musical, "Wicked," winner of fifteen major awards, including a Grammy, three Tonys, and six Drama Desk Awards. Available until March 31, 2007, the "Wicked" package at Loews Regency includes luxurious accommodations in a magnificent one bedroom-suite (you'll swoon at the Park Avenue views from your balcony), two tickets to "Wicked," a welcome amenity of an autographed Charles Palmer cookbook and "Wicked" CD, car service to/from the Gershwin Theater, and three course pre-theater dinner at Charlie Palmer's Aureole. Total package cost is $1,399. To book, call 1-800-233-2356, and press 2.